Friday, 22 July 2011
Although the proposal to build an MBT waste plant the size of two football pitches at Pinkham Way have been ‘put on ice’ for 9 months, over one hundred local residents and campaigners turned up for a packed meeting on the subject. Speakers at the meeting, which was organised by Haringey, Enfield and Barnet Green Parties, were Darren Johnson, Green Party London Assembly Member, Quentin Given, Co-ordinator of Tottenham and Wood Green Friends of the Earth and Colin Parish, founder of the Pinkham Way Alliance.
Quentin Given spoke first, stating that “the reason we’re all here tonight is because we produce too much waste.” He went on to talk about the need for goods to be wrapped in less packaging so that there was less to either recycle or send to landfill in the first place. Friends of the Earth believe that London should be dealing with its own waste and that we should be moving away from incineration.
Colin Parish began by explaining how his involvement in the Pinkham Way Alliance has changed his outlook on environmental issues, particularly the issue of waste. “I’m not a green,” he stated. “I’ve never been overly concerned about recycling but now I’ve come to realise that I need to mend my ways. I’m greener and greener by the day because I realise we need to address this.”
Addressing the accusation that the campaign is nimbyist, Mr. Parish commented, “It’s not that we don’t want it in our backyard; it’s so big we will be in its backyard.” He commented on the ‘dirty dishcloth’ smell that permeated from other MBTs around the country that were already in operation. Flies and litter are often big problems too, leading him to comment that the nearby McDonalds would have to ask customers, if the MBT does go ahead, “do you want flies with that?”
The Pinkham Way Alliance have welcomed the 9 month “stay of execution” and believe that it is essential that the North London Waste Plan (NLWP) is agreed before a decision is made on the proposed Pinkham Way development. On the issue of the NLWP, Mr Parish commented “It’s full of holes. The way in which they have used their own criteria [in relation to Pinkham Way] is incredibly bogus.”
Darren Johnson, Green Party London Assembly Member, was the final speaker. He began by stating that “we will need new types of waste plants to deal with our waste, but I do object to this plan as it is completely the wrong plant in the wrong place.”
Highlighting the fact that the last Mayor of London had planned to have lots of small waste and recycling plants across the capital, but that Boris Johnson, in his new London Plan, changed this to fewer, larger plants, Mr Johnson commented, “I wouldn’t object to MBT if we’re talking about a very small amount of waste in each borough. We are going to have to have waste plants in London, but they need to be in the right location, the right technology and the right size. They need to serve the local community rather than being imposed upon it.”
Mr. Johnson urged campaigners to make the issue of the Pinkham Way plans and, more widely, the issue of London’s waste, into a key Mayoral election issue.
The audience made many contributions, and it became clear that the site where the MBT is planned to be built is a much-loved local wood. People remembered playing there as children and it was noted that it has only been fenced off for the last 18 months, since being bought by the North London Waste Authority for £12 million.
Several audience members talked about the necessity to increase recycling and to improve recycling methods. This would mean less non-recyclable waste to process and less need for huge MBTs or landfill. The issue of businesses being charged for recycling was raised, and the problems this causes in terms of making small businesses less willing to recycle their waste.
Colin Parish was asked at what point would residents be able to be confident the battle had been won? Mr. Parish answered, “We will have succeeded in this campaign when my grandchildren are playing in Pinkham Wood.” He explained that his son is currently 13, so he feels that there’s a very long battle ahead.